As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s also remember that November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to recognize and express our appreciation for America’s 40 million family caregivers. They are truly the backbone our care system, helping aging parents, spouses, and other relatives and friends manage chronic conditions and disabilities.
At AARP, supporting family caregivers like Olivia Garcia is one of our top priorities. Here is Olivia’s story in her own words:
My name is Olivia, and I am my mother’s primary caregiver. Her name is Rosalinda, and she is 61 years young! My family and I have been taking care of her for 11 years, and she’s been living with us for about four years now. She was diagnosed with dementia at the young age of 54, then Alzheimer’s at 58. It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster of stress, emotions, questions and exhaustion! But, we love her and know that good we are doing by the quality of care she receives. Thankful to the fullest for our local Agency on Aging that helped us so much during the beginning times of our journey. Mom attends an adult day care during the day so I can continue to work and provide for my young family of five – including mom! Life isn’t easy or fair at times, but your attitude about it makes all the difference. When her moments of clarity come in and she’s full of joy, I know we are doing amazing things for her! God bless all the caregivers and their families!
To help Olivia and the millions of family caregivers across the country, AARP provides information, develops educational programs, and advocates for a range of federal and state legislation.
Our work is informed and driven by a number of important trends:
- The need for family caregivers is growing. America is aging. By 2030, one in four Americans will be over age 50, and by 2050, one out of five will be age 65 and over. People are living longer, managing chronic conditions over an extended period of time, and, more and more, they are staying in their own homes.
- Family caregivers are as diverse as America. We sometimes talk about the “typical” family caregiver . . . a 49 year old woman who spends 24 hours each week caring for her mother. But, this data point masks the broader picture. Nearly one in ten family caregivers are over age 75. One in four are Millennials. Four in ten are male. While there may be a common bond, every caregiver’s situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits all solution to the challenges they face.
- Technology innovations to support caregivers and their loves ones could be transformative – but we’re not there yet. Venture capital firms are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that provide technology, tools and resources for senior care. And, brand-name companies are rethinking how their products can be used by – and marketed to – seniors and others who require help to stay independent. But, an AARP study found that while 71% of caregivers say they are interested in technology that supports their caregiving tasks, only 7% are using what’s currently available.
- Family caregiving is a workplace issue. A little more than 60% of American’s family caregivers are in the paid workforce. That’s 24 MILLION Americans who are balancing their caregiving responsibilities with jobs – either full or part-time. Employers can do a lot to help. AARP’s research shows that creating a caregiver-friendly workplace can increase productivity and help attract and retain talent. We’ve created a toolkit to help employers support their caregiver employees.
- Family caregiving is no longer simply a personal issue. It is now firmly planted as a BIPARTISAN legislative and political issue. At the state level, the CARE Act – a law that helps family caregivers get information and training to support a loved one who has been in the hospital – is on the books in 39 states and territories that cover the political spectrum. And, here in Washington, AARP is proud to work with Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle to promote legislation like the Credit for Caring Act and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.
In September, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent . . . a strong sign that in an age of partisan gridlock, family caregiving is an issue that policymakers of all political stripes can get behind. AARP is continuing to bolster support for the legislation in the U.S. House.
We are hopeful that Congress will pass the bill to create a national strategy that recognizes and supports family caregivers so families like Olivia Garcia’s can get the help they need to make the big responsibilities of caregiving a little bit easier.
Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.
AARP recently announced the five winners of the AARP Purpose Prize™. The AARP Purpose Prize™ recognizes outstanding work by people age 50 and over that is focused on advancing social good.
The winners of the 2017 AARP Purpose Prize Award are:
Cynthia Barnett, founder and CEO, Amazing Girls Science, Norwalk, Conn.
Retired high school administrator Barnett was disappointed to see girls losing interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), so she created Amazing Girls Science. Through activities like coding camps, robotics workshops, and hackathons, the nonprofit inspires young girls to consider STEM-focused careers.
Reid Cox, co-founder and CFO, iFoster, Truckee, Calif.
Cox and his wife Serita, a former foster child, put their tech company experience to work in order to help families navigate the challenges of foster care. Their online community, iFoster, connects foster children and families with highly needed financial, educational, and social support resources.
James Farrin, executive director, The Petey Greene Program, Princeton, NJ
In 2007, former business consultant Farrin gathered 20 students from his alma mater Princeton University to tutor prison inmates studying for the GED. The Petey Greene Program — named for a former inmate-turned-activist and popular 70s- and 80s-era radio/TV host — has flourished, with students from 30 colleges now tutoring 1,500 individuals in 34 facilities.
Celeste Mergens, founder and CEO, Days for Girls, Mount Vernon, Wash.
Mergens started Days for Girls eight years ago to supply young girls in a Kenyan orphanage with feminine hygiene products so they wouldn’t have to miss school during their periods. This nonprofit has helped 800,000 women and girls worldwide, sidestepping cultural taboos to educate them about their bodies.
Mike Weaver, Founder, Weaver & Concerned Citizens of Aiken/Atlanta Now (WeCCAAN), Atlanta, Ga.
Former college professor Weaver teaches the value of public service by bringing teens and adults together for service-learning trips to communities in need. From cleaning vacant lots to creating community gardens, Weaver and Concerned Citizens of Aiken/Atlanta Now is making a difference in the lives and futures of its participants as well as the recipients of their volunteerism. Weaver is also the recipient of 2017 Andrus Award for Intergenerational Excellence, named after AARP’s founder.
In recognition of their outstanding community-focused work, each winner will receive a $50,000 cash award from AARP at the AARP Purpose Prize Award Gala, to be held in Chicago November 2.
In addition, AARP named 10 individuals AARP Purpose Prize Awards Fellows, they are: Bonnie Addario, Founder and Chair, Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, San Carlos, Calif.; Gary Eichhorn, CEO, Music & Youth Initiative Boston, Mass.; Laurie Green, MD, Founder/ President & CEO, The MAVEN ProjectSan Francisco, Calif.; Annie Griffiths, Executive Director, Ripple Effect Images, Reston, Va.; Cindy Kerr, Founder/CEO, Ryan’s Case for Smiles, Wayne, Pa.; Sister Marilyn Lacey, Mercy Beyond Borders, Santa Clara, Calif.; Ashok Malhotra, Founder/President, The Ninash Foundation, Oneonta, N.Y.; Anne Pollack, Executive Director/Founder, Crossing Point Arts, Inc., New York, N.Y.; Lynn Price, Founder, Camp to Belong, Aurora, Colo., and Juanita Suber, President, My Sistah’s Place/Golden Generations, Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Nominations are now open for the 2018 AARP Purpose Prize, here: www.aarp.org/purposeprize
In 2011, some widely used implantable heart defibrillators, designed to correct potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms, developed cracked insulation on their high-voltage electrical wires. The result was that in some cases they caused severe shocks, and even deaths.
Consumers with the defective implants had to decide whether to undergo dangerous surgery to replace the device or simply monitor it. Until the defective device is replaced, consumers run the risk that it will deliver an unnecessary high-voltage jolt of electricity—described as a feeling similar to being hit across the chest with a baseball bat—or simply fail, which could lead to cardiac arrest and death.
As the population has aged and technology has advanced, the range and number of implantable devices, like cardiac pacemakers and artificial hip replacements, have become ubiquitous. Experts estimate that 7.2 million Americans are living with joint implants alone. These devices can significantly improve the quality of life and, in some cases, save lives. However, while implantable devices can provide benefits, they also carry substantial risks to patients, including serious injury and even death if they fail. A number of serious implantable device failures have caught the public’s attention and raised questions about the need to improve the safety and effectiveness of implantable devices. The 2011 example above illustrates the issue.
A recently published AARP Public Policy Institute Insight on the Issues explores areas of public concern surrounding these devices. The report, “Implantable Devices: Regulatory Framework and Reform Options,” discusses the FDA’s process for approval and oversight of these devices. The paper suggests policy options that could both strengthen and streamline the process to better protect public health and safety while also encouraging the development and marketing of devices that will benefit patients. Some of the options discussed in the publication include:
- Strengthening and streamlining the pre-market approval and clearance processes for implantable devices.
- Strengthening post-market oversight and reporting for implantable devices through the use of more post-market surveillance studies, innovative monitoring techniques, and additional funding for these activities.
- Making better use of patient registries to track device performance and patient outcomes.
- Expanding use of unique device identifiers so devices can be tracked and identified.
- Improving communication with stakeholders.
- Strengthening quality controls by giving the FDA authority to conduct pre-market inspection of all facilities that make implantable devices.
- Strengthening FDA enforcement activities through more effective recalls and other actions.
Open dialogue on these issues and options can help inform needed policy action. In another blog post, I discuss a second Insight on the Issues that deals with the lack of price transparency and need for greater competition in the implantable device marketplace.
Keith Lind is a Senior Strategic Policy Adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute, where he covers issues related to Medicare and medical devices.
Have you ever asked yourself these questions, “What’s the best mobile app to use or the best device to purchase for achieving your everyday goals?” “How can I use technology to stay connected to family and friends, search for jobs,manage my homes, care for loved ones and learn a new skill?” Most of us have. To help with answers, AARP is hosting a free Online Technology Fair, Thursday, June 8 from 1PM to 6PM EST. You can register now to learn about the latest technologies for your daily life without feeling overwhelmed.
The fair will focus on utilizing technology to prioritize and simplify your life, finding work and connecting caregivers to loved ones, fellow caregivers and find local resources. You will find interactive videos and games, plus live webinars and video chats featuring industry experts. You can get your questions answered by representatives from about two dozen non-profit organizations and government agencies that include American Institute for Cancer Research, Consumer Technology Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Volunteer Match and Next Avenue, to name a few.
By now, we probably all use technology to achieve and engage in most of our life activities. Through the use of our smart phones, computers, and now smart cars and smart homes, there is always something new being created to make our lives simpler. To hear more about this and others, representatives from AARP Driver Safety will discuss the latest in smart vehicle technologies, and AARP Fraud Watch Network will discuss how to stay safe online. In addition, Dean Reistad of HelloTech will talk about how to simplify your life by using smart home automation, and author Jason Rich will discuss how companion robots, technology-controlled pill boxes, and other gadgets can enhance your life.
Using technology to find a job is now common practice. If you are job hunting you are probably using one or more online job boards. For this event, AARP work & jobs expert Kerry Hannon, Tom Ogletree of General Assembly, and other knowledgeable staff will talk about how to better use technology to boost your skills, stand out in your field or transition into a new career. You will also learn about how the AARP Job Board and the AARP’s Employer Pledge Program can help you find relevant jobs for your skills and experiences. They will share information about AARP’s job seeking resources that range from how to prepare your resume to preparing for the interview. You’ll even learn more about teleworking – from how to find a job that allows you to work from home, to how you can stay connected as you work from home.
Now that caregiving has now stepped into the world of technology, apps and gadgets can help you stay connected to your loved one as well as a network of other caregivers. We know caregiving takes a village to provide relief, moral support and help with identifying needed resources. Attend to hear about AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center and Caregivers in the Community (CINC) app that will help you prepare to care and connect to local resources and fellow caregivers.
Register now for the AARP’s free Online Technology Fair and participate from the comfort of your home or office. Take advantage of the myriad of tools and resources offered and discover surprising tricks and shortcuts that can help you from dawn to dusk. Can’t make the live event? Register and you can view the event on demand.
AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP.
Also of Interest
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Do You Know Tech Talk?
New Tech Tools For Working Smarter